“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, is a dramatic monologue in which the speaker recalls his insecurities in dealing with the opposite sex and the choices he made in general in his life. He wonders if he should have done things differently. Prufrock starts in a city-scape “Like a patient etherised upon a table;/ Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets” and ends on a beach “I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. ” presumably much later in his life.
In-between he tells of the opportunities he missed, and how he agonized over what to say or what to do. Throughout the poem the speaker, Prufrock, describes the landscape around him, however he is really telling the reader how he feels, and what he is going through. “The evening spread out against the sky/ like a patient etherised upon a table” describes the stillness of the city, but also Prufrock’s inability to make a descision or act, which is a recurring theme. “The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes” could be Prufrock looking into a room, where “women come and go / Talking of Michelangelo. Michelangelo’s most famous piece, the statue of David, draws an interesting comparison to the speaker, Prufrock. David is the epitome of the male form, Prufrock describes himself as a thin, balding, middle aged man. Prufrock is very self conscious about his appearance “With a bald spot in the middle of my hair” and again “They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin! ”” Prufrock is not a real person, but he is familiar. He has a personality that people can relate to. He scrutinizes every decision he makes, and acknowledges that even after all the careful thought he will reverse some of them. And time yet for a hundred indecisions, / And for a hundred visions and revisions, / Before the taking of toast and tea. ” Most people feel rushed to make decisions, but not Prufrock. “There will be time, there will be time” “An indeed there will be time” similar lines are common throughout “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”. Even without this time restraint Prufrock cannot decide on a clear path of action. Not because he does not want to, but because he is scared. “Should I, after tea and cakes and ices / have the strength to force the moment to its crisis? “I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, / and I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, / And in short, I was afraid. ” He is afraid of the social implications of making the wrong decision. Eliot draws a picture of a very self conscious, insecure man in J Alfred Prufrock. One who feels like he is being scrutinized by everyone at all times. He at one point wishes he had been born a crab, surely this is a metaphor, but it gets his point across nonetheless. “I should have been born a pair of ragged claws / Scuttling across the floors of silent seas. He compares himself to a bug stuck on a pin on display or for studying “”sprawling on a pin, / When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall”. He asks several times ““Do I dare? ” and, “Do I dare? ” “ He has spent time alone in a room when there was a party going on, wondering “Do I dare / Disturb the universe? ” “I know the voices dying with a dying fall / Beneath the music from a farther room. / So how should I presume? ” Prufrock looks back over the decisions he has made, and the actions he did not take and wonders if he should have done things differently. Would it have been worth while, / To have bitten off the matter with a smile,”. Upon reflection he thinks it would have come out wrong ”That is not it at all / That is not what I meant, at all. ” and “It is impossible to say just what I mean! ” In his old age he is still wondering if what he is about to do is the right thing to do. “Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? ” He still thinks of himself in a unflattering way also, when speaking of mermaids riding on waves he says “I do not think that they will sing to me. Eliot paints a picture of a common man. An insecure, self conscious man who agonizes over the smallest decisions. He tells the story of J Alfred Prufrock’s life, starting as a balding middle aged man, and ending as an older man, still wondering whether the decisions he made were right or not, whether he should have done this or that differently. The reader learns quite a bit about Prufrock in “The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock”, maybe more than he intended to tell.